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“Don’t Build It and They Will Come”: The Evolving West

Global Public Media
Watching a new paradigm about energy and climate change grabbing hold in the U.S. Congress is a fascinating sight, even if the process is still agonizingly slow in comparison to the rate at which the world is changing.

The paradigm change is not uniformly partisan; members of both parties sit there squirming at hearing after hearing, as witnesses explain that all of us must come to understand the world in a new and different way. The long-cherished, fossil-fuel based, “markets know all” paradigm has broken down, while the outlines of a new paradigm are visible but still tenuous.

This paradigm shift was on sharper display than usual at a hearing on “the evolving West” on Wednesday, Februrary 28, before the House Natural Resources Committee.
(2 March 2007)

U.S. Predicting Steady Increase for Emissions

Andrew C. Revkin, NY Times
The Bush administration estimates that emissions by the United States of gases that contribute to global warming will grow nearly as fast through the next decade as they did the previous decade, according to a long-delayed report being completed for the United Nations.

The document, the United States Climate Action Report, emphasizes that the projections show progress toward a goal Mr. Bush laid out in a 2002 speech: that emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases grow at a slower rate than the economy. Since that speech, he has repeated his commitment to lessening “greenhouse gas intensity” without imposing formal limits on the gases.

Kristen A. Hellmer, a spokeswoman for the White House on environmental matters, said on Friday, “The Climate Action Report will show that the president’s portfolio of actions addressing climate change and his unparalleled financial commitments are working.”

But when shown the report, an assortment of experts on climate trends and policy described the projected emissions as unacceptable given the rising evidence of risks from unabated global warming.
(3 March 2007)
Comments by David Roberts of Gristmill and Kevin Drum of Washington Monthly. Kevin writes:

Killer stuff, Mr. President! Reducing emissions growth from 11.6% to 11% really shows you take this stuff seriously.

UPDATE from Kevin Drum.

Coal in cars: great fuel or climate foe?

Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor
A key problem is that liquid from coal emits twice as much carbon as gasoline. Still, Washington likes the idea.
Coal companies want to fuel your car and lately, they’re getting a lot of political support for the idea.

Turning coal into gasoline-like fuel has several advantages. It would use America’s vast coal reserves. It would reduce the nation’s thirst for foreign oil and help dampen spikes in energy prices. There’s just one problem: It is not “climate friendly” – at least, not yet.

Coal-to-liquids (CTL) fuels could end up emitting nearly double the carbon dioxide that the equivalent amount of gasoline does, mostly because of the way it’s manufactured. The CTL industry says new technology will fix the problem. But because such technology is not yet developed, it’s unclear whether CTL fuels would be competitive without state and federal subsidies, even competing against high-priced diesel, jet fuel, or gasoline, analysts say.

That’s where politicians come in. The National Mining Association has ramped up Capitol Hill lobbying, creating a new coalition and website, Many in Washington are warming to the idea. CTL bills in the House of Representatives and the Senate have received strong backing.
(2 March 2007)